Tuesday, June 22, 2010

FrISC Finalist Spotlight Series: The Midnight Show

FrISC stays up past our bedtime to talk to James Adomian, Heather Anne Campbell, Joe Chandler, Josh Fadem, Cale Hartmann, Eric Moneypenny, James Pumphrey, Curtis Rainsberry, Hal Rudnick, Jeff Sloniker & Nic Wegener.

To hear James Adomian re-tell the story, you’d probably think it was some supreme cosmic power that helped assemble the members of The Midnight Show.

“Two years ago, Cale and Eric and I started getting drunk together religiously. It was a magical time of music and wrestling and Idiocracy. One night, Joe Wagner came over and prophesied that a great comedy show would come of this. Shortly afterward, Busch pulled the trigger, wrangling a wild pack of outcasts and misfits together for an untitled midnight sketch show. Out of that swirling cloud of stardust emerged The Midnight Show that we have today,” he said.

Speaking of stars, each month’s show has featured a new celebrity host including: Andy Richter, Dax Shepard, Fred Willard, Ken Marino, Matt Walsh, Paul F Tompkins, Jerry O'Connell, and Ethan Suplee, to name a few.

FrISC: Growing up, how were you drawn into the world of comedy?

James Pumphrey: I started 5 new schools between 6th and 10th grade. I was always new and I was also fat. My parents didn't have any money, either. If I wasn't funny, I would have never had friends. Later, I realized that I hadn't become good at anything (guitar, sports) and I hated it when people told me what to do. So...comedy.

James Adomian: I was plied with drinks in a dark tavern and shanghaied off to a cruel life of laughter -- impressed into service on the Black Freighter!

Cale Hartmann: My mom watched SNL every Saturday and it was a personal goal to stay up past Weekend Update. I never could.

Heather Anne Campbell: With permanent marker.

Joe Chandler: Not sure, but I wish I could undo it.

FrISC: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened during a taping or live performance of one of your shows?

Hal: Every show is a wild ride. It's hard to pinpoint one moment because each show is brimming with craziness. From splattering the stage and walls with blood, to having the crowd erupt after being blindsided by unexpected nudity in one of our videos, to a tender moment of perversion, there are too many to recount. But invariably, it's pretty crazy to invite the entire audience back to our group's house, "The Midnight Mansion," after every show.

FrISC: What’s your writing process?

Jeff Sloniker: I usually have an idea for a couple weeks and then 45 minutes before the writers meeting, rush to get it done. Then after the group tears it apart, I re-write it and bring it back in.

Heather: We bring in almost 60 sketches each month, and then vote to determine which pieces make it into the show. The best part about having a big group is that the sketches which do make it into the show, past the voting process, are the ones that are universally funny. Because we have to agree on which sketches work, there's less self-indulgence and more actual comedy.

Cale: We yell at each other every Wednesday and Sunday.

FrISC: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned while pursuing your career?

Joe C: That eventually, no matter what happens, you’re going to end up working with 10 other people who share your sense of humor and drive you to be better creatively. And that those 10 people will inspire you with their writing and their talent. And that this will happen to everyone who works hard enough and pursues their dreams for long enough.

Hal: The most important thing I've learned whilst in pursuit of my career is to, "always be grindin'."

FrISC: What is your advice for beginning sketch performers?

Eric: Shut up and do it. Nobody put a gun to our head and forced us to start doing sketch comedy in high school and college, then move across country and discover like-minded people who laugh at the same things. If you like it, do it. Watch it, study it, perfect it. If you don't want any of that, then get a real job, get married, some kids, and stay out of our way.

Nic: Don’t send out mass emails or Facebook invites for every show you do.
Cale: Think of the most common-place, widely known, everyday situation that every single person, no matter what, understands and has experienced, and do something with it that they've never seen.

FrISC: In your wildest dreams, if money were no object, where would you want to take The Midnight Show?

Eric: On the television set, and saved to the DVR of every single 12-year old out there who wants to do this one day. That's how old we were when we found things like Python and early SNL. And hopefully they would fall in love with comedy like we did, watch it over and over. Study it. Then, decide that most comedy sucks, and want to do something about it. Just like we did.

Nic: Melisse in Santa Monica. I hear it’s the best restaurant in LA and it’d be cool to see fancy waiters wait on us in our street clothes.

James A: The other side of Orion's belt.

Cale: Birds.

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